Aphra/Wat/Sentinel/GD - Deck Analysis

Aphra Droids SoHjpg
(CLICK THE IMAGE to go straight to swdestinydb and start playing around with the deck yourself!)

1. INTRODUCTION:

Written by CLAUS STAAL

We have done multiple deck analyses gravitating around the sassy Doctor Aphra. For some of the many iterations check out the links below, but almost needless to say, Doctor Aphra remains one of the best characters available. Not because of her die or her cost, because the die is mediocre at best and she's fairly expensive, but because she combines so beautifully some of the most powerful things in Destiny.comic Aphra sohjpg
This article builds on our many previous analyses of Aphra, but is focused on whether or not she will still be the focal point of a top tier deck in the Spark of Hope meta ... and I'll answer that in the affirmative already now, albeit somewhat prematurely, but she does feel as strong as ever. Even with all the support hate floating around she has all the tools at her disposal to succeed, including some rock hard sidekicks!

2. CHARACTERS:

Aphra soh1jpgDOCTOR APHRA is an outrageously good enabler. Not like Snoke in the mad days before the second Balance of the Force, not like Yoda1, but her power stems from the combination of several "small elements" that creates enormously powerful synergies and makes her ideal for building decks around.
  • Her passive ability to play a Droid at a discount is similar to staple cards like It Binds All Things and Tech Team (both reprinted in Convergence), but eclipses those cards because the ability is guaranteed round 1 and yields a profit immediately! And while the ability only works on specific supports and upgrades, the Droids available are few, but mostly of high quality. The crown jewels are of course the two invaluable murder droids: BT-1 and 0-0-0, but there are other interesting cards as well.
  • The ability to draw a card whenever you deal yourself Indirect damage is INCREDIBLY powerful as it allows you to sift through your deck rapidly, and should as early as round 1 functionally give you a card advantage, which is further augmented by the Sentinel Messenger. The card draw also syntaxes beautifully with her Droid discount as you will be able to reliably for those vital supports and use the ability every single round until she is defeated. In most games this equates a 3 resource advantage.
WAT TAMBOR is easily one of the best support characters available and can fulfill one of several important roles in this deck.
  1. He can provide resources to secure ramp.
  2. He can provide consistency with his two Focus sides.
  3. He can boost the impact of your supports with his Power Action.
Aphra sohjpgBeing able to use the Assassin Droid twice in a round can be extremely powerful and increases the value way above the 2 resources you paid for it (provided you got the discount from Doctor Aphra's ability). A double activation from 0-0-0 with no Blanks on the die is nothing to scoff at either - again, you possibly only paid 1 resource for it!aphra 6jpg
The SENTINEL MESSENGER is really just the icing on the cake! His after ability really shines here, as in all decks really, as it allows you to dig deep for some of your combo cards, i.e. the murder droids, or just find some mitigation and play it straight out of the top of your deck.

Even when you do have your combo pieces in your hand, it's still often going to be worth it to activate the Sentinel BEFORE playing any cards to see if you draw another copy of a card in hand, enabling your hand by turning the one in hand into a potential discard to reroll, or you might draw a Reprogram to allow you to play your Droid in hand at a discount or a Bubble Shield before activating the BT-1 or ... yeah, the list goes on. Getting the sequencing right here is vital to maximise the efficiency of all elements of the deck.

3. MURDER DROIDS:
aphra 7jpg
Both 0-0-0 and BT-1 are HUGELY important to your deck! It's not really difficult to see why! They synergise with each other, activate BT-1 to deal 1 Indirect damage to both you and your opponent, deal another Indirect damage to your opponent due to 0-0-0's ability, while they also synergise with Aphra allowing you to play them cheaper AND drawing a card when activating BT-1. Synergies like that is exactly what characterise powerful cards in Destiny: Multiplication of effects.

On top of this they both come with reasonably good dice, four damage sides on BT-1 and no Blanks on 0-0-0 with a die reminiscent of Kylo Ren's ... not too bad! Ah ... did I remember to mention that they are both just 1 resource with Aphra's ability. I think I did.

4. THE DRAW ENGINE:
One of the most powerful cores in this deck is the Draw Engine elements that allow you to sift through your deck rapidly. You could with relative ease be seeing 90% of your deck by round 3 if everything pans out in the way you've planned.aphra soh6jpg
Between GRAND DESIGN (as long as you have Wat Tambor in play), the Sentinel Messenger and Doctor Aphra's abilities, you should be able to reliably see 7+ cards per round. And although there are plenty of conditions to be met, which underscores why the synergies here are important, it's not going to be too difficult for you as long as you map out your turns correctly.

Because you operate with such a massive draw engine, which is a contributing win condition against aggro-style decks, it can easily become a liability against mill decks. Just remember that all these effects are MAY effects. Against mill decks you'll often want to gain an early advantage round 1, but slow down the draw engine round 2+. Just go slow and make your opponent work for his survival.

5. RAMPING:
In previous editions of the Aphra Droids deck I included Tech Team as a ramp card. But I hate Tech Team. It's slow! It's clumsy and it feels like a dead card in your hand as early as round 2, and it's stone cold certified dead in round 3. So, it's gone.

REPROGRAM on the other hand is great at getting your murder droid power combo up and running from round 1. Only downside is that using Reprogram to play a 2cost Droid for free bars you from using Wat Tambor's Power Action. Keep that in mind! ALWAYS maximise. It's often better to let the Reprogram sit in your hand and start digging a bit deeper into your deck for another Droid to play at a reduced price later.Aphra soh2jpg
WELL-CONNECTED
I've opted for two copies of Well-Connected and just one copy of Reprogram, because the former can also help paying for die sides when needed. Most of your dice have one big payside on it, and while you normally won't have difficulty finding the resources, the success of the deck is also dependent on being able to keep constant pressure on your opponent. Keep pushing dice in the pool especially when your opponent think you have no ammo left. A late Well-Connected, after an opponent has claimed can easily add another 2 or 3 damage that can be exactly what you need to tip the scale.

THEED ROYAL PALACE is added simply because it almost always ensures you 1 extra resource round 1. You will be happy to convert a crappy Aphra die or a poor roll on the Sentinel Messenger into a resource. This will often be the difference between playing one or two supports round 1. You won't often win the roll-off, but when you do: Pick your own Battlefield.

6. SUPPORTS:
The ASSASSIN DROID was not one of my favourite Droids in my previous iterations of the deck, but when played with Wat Tambor's Power Action it doesn't disappoint and can be truly monstrous. The die is obviously mediocre and you'll need to make sure that you can find a way to resolve it when played so you can get that second activation where it will retrieve its value. When you are on the right side of variance and hit those two 2 Ranged damage though ... BOOM!

I never keep it in my opening hand though - unless you play against swarm decks - since it will deplete your resources and possibly leave you with no mitigation options.Aphra soh3jpg
The STAP DROID is a good 1cost support which can be played for free with Aphra and IF you hit the 3 Indirect damage side once or twice it can fast enough become a thorn in the side that your opponent will have to deal with - often leaving your other supports free to roam.

I'm really torn regarding the CORUSCANT POLICE. On one hand it's nice that there aren't any Blanks, but the output just feels very meager at times. Those two 1 Shield sides just feel m'eh! If you are looking to change up the composition of supports, then this is where I'd start adjusting. Ah ... also, don't forget about the free removal of a Scoundrel die when playing the Coruscant Police! I did it in a few test games and it cost me! Might not be relevant too often, but the list of Scoundrels for Standard Format does have some prominent titles in between:scoundrel list Aphra sohjpg
One of the problems in scouting for supports for the deck is that there just aren't that many options unless you start looking at non-Droid supports. The Hailfire Droid Tank is great, but is so damn expensive and the LR-57 Combat Droid feels like a gamble. Aphra soh4jpg
Lately I've been inclined to put the Ark Angel back into the deck. It has reasonable die sides for a 2cost support and can help you to apply pressure on your opponent! This deck is a SLOW roller, and while it's great at wearing your opponent down by chipping at him, sometimes you just need to be able to threaten with lethal damage fast, and in this deck that requires several dice in the pool! I do at times long for the ability to simultaneously activate both the Ark Angel, 0-0-0 and BT-1, dealing 2 Indirect damage immediately and having three potentially dangerous dice in the pool! Please join the dark sidejpg
7. INDIRECT DAMAGE:
Although this deck is not entirely about Indirect damage, it does evolve around an engine that seeks to capitalise off Indirect damage dealt to yourself. Dealing yourself Indirect damage means dealing your opponent Indirect damage and drawing more cards that will inflict more Indirect damage, to you and your opponent, drawing more cards ... Indirect damage is in other words the fuel that keeps your engine running.Aphra soh5jpg
Many of your combo pieces are meant to redistribute damage dealt to yourself. You can either absorb them on Shields (the 2 Shield side on Aphra is probably her best side) or put them on the BUBBLE SHIELDS. It is a great utility piece that can take the Indirect damage you deal yourself either from removal cards like BY ANY MEANS or CRASH LANDING, or when healing/'moving' damage with DANGEROUS MANEUVER (you are not actually moving the damage). And you still get to draw cards with Doctor Aphra and deal damage with 0-0-0 because it's not about damage taken, but damage dealt!

8. REMOVAL CARDS:
Aphra 12jpgFORSAKEN
Now easily becoming my favourite removal card for villains. It's such a strong opener as well as a great card to pull from the deck with the Messenger! It is so ridiculously easy to set up the Forsaken play. This card will probably never see the inside of my binders!

I love to hate on HIDDEN MOTIVE and yet it feels like a must include. It usually has 33% chance of removing a die, but against more consistent dice the probability rise. I might actually consider swapping it for two copies of DOUBT. The swap of course depends on how the meta develops. The more diversified die sides you'll see, the weaker Hidden Motive is, while more base damage sides and generally stronger dice hurts Doubt. The latter is great at splitting base damage sides from modified damage sides though and is great against Snoke (it's of course a bit uncertain where he'll be in the Spark of Hope meta).
stats Aphra sohjpg
Your mitigation is deliberately very cheap, discounting the two Dangerous Maneuver that are also 0cost, and although Crash Landing only works against damage sides, and most dice have at least one damage side, you should still be able to see at least one, but probably two, mitigation cards per turn AND be able to play both.

9. TECH CARD:
aphra soh7jpgSEPARATIST EMBARGO is a great card that really rewards knowledge of the meta. It is by no means an insurance, but can be an incredibly good road block for an opponent. The mere existence of it also means that even combo decks have to be careful not to put all their eggs in one basket. Be sure to name KEY CARDS! Naming mitigation is a bad idea as there will be several pieces of various mitigation in your opponent's deck, while naming key upgrades or supports is usually the best bet. Be sure to go through your opponent's discard pile before naming the card and draw up a plan for the most prevalent decks in the format. Also remember that neither YOU nor YOUR OPPONENT can play any further copies of whichever card is being named!

DESPERATE MEASURES is godsend for a deck that cannot reliably use Vandalize with just 3 character dice. As long as Aphra is alive it also replaces itself when used. Taking a 5 Indirect damage hit can often be a small price to pay to get rid of a Vader's Fist. It will in most instances work as another mitigation card. Don't be afraid to use it against low cost supports either. I'm still pondering whether to bring two copies and despite my remark on Vandalize I'm also still considering adding that to get rid of a few select upgrades.

PROBE and COUNTERINTELLIGENCE works in much the same way, but I've opted for just one copy of Counterintelligence because it requires a Leader and Wat Tambor is often the preferred target of most opponents.

10. BATTLEFIELD:
Aphra battlefieldjpg
Some people use Petranaki Arena because it works great with 0-0-0 and a double claim can clench wins in very tight fought games:You can deal 2 Unblockable damage and 2 Indirect damage (if you have 0-0-0 in play).

I'm liking THEED ROYAL PALACE better though because this deck likes to operate slowly, which means that in many games I don't even get to use Petranaki Arena, even when I win the Battlefield roll-off. Theed Royal Palace is basically a guaranteed resource, which should all but ensure that you can get two supports down round 1. You'll probably never see the Battlefield again after round 1.

11. MULLIGAN:
HAND Aphra droids ARTICLE2jpg
It's pretty simple ... you need one or both of your murder droids in your starting hand! You can go with a combination of Reprogram or Well-Connected, etc. after mulligan, but my advice is to pitch everything to draw either 0-0-0 or BT-1. You have plenty of mitigation in the deck so don't be afraid to ditch all of it to redraw.

12. TEST GAMES:
YOUR Destiny Patrons already have access to quite a few test games via our Discord Channel. I might be using slightly different decks in the games, but at least 90% of the deck should be the same as discussed in this article!
TEST GAMES ARTICLEjpgIf you are already a patron, then just drop by the Discord Channel and find all the videos in the Discord Sub-Channel. ENJOY!

13. UPDATED LIST:
[JULY 28]: After more testing, I've updated the list with a slight readjustment of cards. It's not far off from the deck analysed in this article, but swaps Well-Connected for RESPITE, which is mostly used on Doctor Aphra, while the FICKLE MERCENARIES find their way back into the deck. I've also added a VANDALIZE to get rid of really nasty upgrades and it's flexible enough to also be usable against small supports. (Click the image to go straight to swdestinydb and start tinkering with the deck).
aphra droids revisedjpg

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